Union hits back at Senate casuals decision

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The AMWU has slammed the Senate’s decision this week to keep a regulation preventing casual staff from claiming leave entitlements, calling it anti-worker.

AI Group undermining standards: Lorraine Cassin, national secretary, AMWU print division
Decision "shamefully anti-worker": Lorraine Cassin, national secretary, AMWU print division

The decision to prevent the Labor backed proposal was strongly supported by employer organisations including the PVCA and the Australian Chamber of Commerce, who lobbied furiously against it, dubbing it double dipping, claiming it would mean paying twice, and saying it could send small businesses to the wall.

However Lorraine Cassin, national secretary at the AMWU’s print division, told Print21 that the defeat of the motion, which aimed to overturn a regulation allowing employers to offset already-paid loadings against entitlements ordered to be paid to employees who say they were misclassified as casuals, is bad news for workers.

“We are disappointed that the Senate has chosen to support the anti-worker agenda of the Morrison Liberal Government. Workers are being employed in long term positions with consistent hours but are deemed casual, and denied the right to sick and annual leave.

“By voting against Labor’s disallowance motion, the Senate has endorsed the casualisation and insecure work that have become a standard business model across Australia,” she said.

Cassin voiced her support for the Skene decision by the full Federal Court last year, which held that the regular and predictable hours worked by truck driver Paul Skene entitled him to the same leave benefits as permanent employees.

“If you’re working regular, predictable hours on an ongoing basis, you shouldn’t be employed as a casual. You should have the right to sick leave and annual leave,” she said.

The motion to disallow the regulation, though supported by Labor, the Greens, and Jacqui Lambie, was sunk this week when the Centre Alliance, One Nation, and Cory Bernardi sided with the Coalition against it in a 33-29 vote.

“This is another shamefully anti-worker decision from this Government and this Senate,” said Cassin.

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